What the CEO Sees for 2020

On behalf of WIA, Happy New Year! 2019 was a great year for our industry and 2020 promises to bring even more progress.  

In the WIA blog, “2020 Vision: Wireless Infrastructure Industry Leaders Predict Trends for the Coming Year,” a wide variety of WIA members gave their valuable insight on what to expect in 2020. While they all had different takes, it’s clear the deck is set in 2020 for tremendous innovation. Change brings its challenges – wireless needs to see revenues rise to meet the massive investments ahead. Our incredible team at WIA, who works to serve you as members every day, will do everything we can to make your 2020 is prosperous and successful. Here’s what we see for the year ahead. 

We anticipate another year of a supportive regulatory environment in Washington and in state capitals. While we still face resistance in municipalities, some are rolling out the red carpet for 5G. WIA is working at the federal level to bring the municipalities up to the highest standards, submitting two petitions to the FCC to ease collocation and regulatory hurdles at the local level. WIA is working closely with the FCC to clear barriers for 5G deployment. While we still have work to do, Chairman Pai and the other Commissioners are trying to build on the progress they have made.  

For the past few years, WIA has been working closely with state legislators to enact a common-sense framework for small cell deployment. I am glad to report that with the passage of eight small cell bills last year, there are now 28 states with a process to streamline small cell deployment. Puerto Rico became the first territory with a similar framework. Notably, these bills continued to have broad and substantial bipartisan support from legislatures and governors from both sides of the aisle. I anticipate adding more states in 2020 to the long list that have enacted pro-investment small cell legislation. 

Training and workforce development issues moved to the forefront in 2019. POLITICO, a DC-based, national news outlet, published an article titled “The big barrier to Trump’s 5G America,” which calls for the need for a trained wireless workforce in order to win the race to 5G. The article reached a total of 14.4 million people. We are also pleased that the article enlisted the expertise and experience of WIA member Josh Broder, Tilson CEO. 

WIA is advocating for the need for a properly trained 5G workforce through apprenticeships, particularly the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP), and we are supporting legislation that enables a 5G-ready workforce. TIRAP is a hands-on solution to a wireless workforce gap and is a Department of Labor-credentialed program. WIA has spent its time in front of government agencies, lawmakers, and the media to ensure that this issue is in the foreground of the government agenda.  

In 2020, we are already seeing an increase in media coverage of a 5G workforce, and we hope that this trend remains constant throughout the year. We are educating key government officials about this crucial issue and will continue to do so.  

Speaking of workforce, did you know that more than 1,000 of your colleagues, including some of you reading this, have taken advantage of the Telecommunications Education Center’s (TEC) 5G training? TEC is building in momentum as it strives to train companies and employees of all locations, expertise, and size on 5G. TEC offers courses in everything from fundamentals to more advanced training. The training can be completed online, or WIA’s TEC team can come to your company and train a group of employees at one time for maximum efficiency. The best news of all is that WIA members receive a discount on all TEC training. A simple message to tec-online@wia.org will plug you in to the next step so that your team is prepared for what’s to come.   

It’s never too early to start planning for my favorite industry event, Connectivity Expo – Connect (X). I may be biased, but you already know Connect (X) remains the premier trade show that brings together the entire connectivity ecosystem. And this year will be bigger and better than ever. You do not want to miss out on this must-attend event. I look forward to seeing all of you at the Miami Beach Convention Center, May 18-21, 2020. As always, we appreciate your support and participation. If you have any questions, all of us at WIA are an email away.